Thursday, June 30, 2011
When a defendant testifies in their defense in a trial they do have the right to plead the Fifth to questions asked by prosecutors and not answer, but of course it makes them look like they have something to hide as they do. Pleading the Fifth means that according to the Fifth Amendment, a defendant can refuse to answer a question that could incriminate and convict them. Anyone with anything to hide is better off not testifying in their defense to begin with. A witness in a trial also has the right to plead the Fifth during trial; however, this results in the end of the witness's testimony.
In my own trial in Orange County, Florida (Orlando), I did testify in my defense. Though seriously provoked by the prosecutor, I did not plead the Fifth in response to any question. The State of Florida's main witness, Theresa Isaacs, did plead the Fifth in testimony though. The judge ordered a long lunch break so that she could talk to her attorney and make sure that pleading the Fifth was a good move. She returned from that break smirking and stated to the judge that she would be happy to testify. After the next few questions from my attorney, Theresa pled the Fifth once again. The judge ordered her dismissed as a witness. Prosecutors sure did not look happy and she exited the courtroom with fake tears rolling down her ugly face.
Shortly after Theresa's exit she went into a private room with main case agent Brant Rose. They were in there for quite some time, according to my friend sitting in the hallway. Immediately after leaving the private room, Theresa cried to a woman juror in the ladies room. The juror was compelled to tell a court deputy who in turn informed the judge. The jury was led out of the courtroom with the exception of the one juror. She informed all of us (minus the rest of the jury) exactly what Theresa stated to her as she cried in the bathroom. It was damaging to me, of course. I always believed that Theresa did what she did at the direction of Agent Brant Rose – the state was not doing good in the courtroom and he had to throw a monkey wrench in the trial at that point. Tampering with a jury was certainly not beyond Rose's arsenal of tools.
As soon as the lady juror finished telling her story of what happened in the bathroom, she was excused from the courtroom and instructed to not discuss anything with the other jurors. Prosecutors whispered something to the judge (the audio did not pick it up as I later listened to the trial CDs, trying to figure out what the conversation was), and the next thing I knew, the judge was explaining to me that I had every right to a mistrial. He repeated this several times and explained it all thoroughly, at the urging of prosecutors. They all wanted a mistrial. I refused the mistrial and stated that I would rather continue.
No way in hell they were going to get a second chance to fine-tune the witness acts. Theresa Isaacs was an actress, if nothing else. The State of Florida brought me to that point and I'll be damned – we were going to finish the show trial. No second show trial for me!
After all of that happened it really went downhill for the state. We were all waiting to hear Rocky's testimony. Unbeknown to me at that moment, Rocky would be told to leave the courthouse for his refusal to lie on the stand. In a private room he told both prosecutors that there was no need to go over his testimony and that he knew what really happened and intended to tell the truth on the stand. Prosecutors would refer to this as a “refusal to testify” at Rocky's sentencing hearing a month later and he was sentenced to 36 months in a Florida prison and 10 years of felony probation.
Someone with the MBI or the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor (OSP) judge shopped when they arrested me. Judge Anthony Johnson was best known as a hanging judge that always sided with prosecutors. He was the icing on the railroad cake for me. On a few occasions during trial he attempted to appear impartial, but was barely successful. Judge Johnson clearly ran a kangaroo court. Casey Anthony has no such problem – Orange County Circuit Court Chief Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. has no such biases and has conducted an actual fair trial.
I have read through most of the evidence in the Casey Anthony case and have come to several conclusions: She is guilty of something, though I am not so sure that it is first degree murder. The evidence does not prove murder in the first degree, no matter how you want to view it. Perhaps the evidence proves murder in the second degree or manslaughter, but that is not how she was charged. She was charged in the way that she was as prosecutors dangled the death penalty, figuring she would plead to a lesser charge (like second degree murder or manslaughter) to have the death penalty removed. She called their bluff.
Really I am hearing many theories from prosecutors in this case, but only a fool goes to trial on theory. In my opinion, even if this jury convicts Casey, the conviction would be overturned on appeal, if Judge Perry lets it fly, which I doubt that he would. And that is this former defendant's perspective on the Casey Anthony trial in Orlando.